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IM Gary Lane...

... on wild openings: BDG and the Euwe Defense

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The start of the New Year gives me a chance to catch up on replying to questions wanting to know about daredevil openings which delight club players and baffle grandmasters.

Amit Kureel from the USA has something on his mind and writes "I know my question is, may be, slightly vague and general, still, if it’s interesting, I would like to ask you, in your opinion, which is the most wild opening you have come across (and is still playable!) ?"

I think regular readers will know I have a soft spot for the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit mainly because when I first joined my local club everybody seemed to play it successfully in blitz. However, I have to admit the daddy of all wild openings still regularly played has to be the King’s Gambit.

First of all of those who still wondering about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit it tends to occur after 1 d4 d5 e4 or 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 fxe4 4 f3. The beauty of it is that White is rewarded with an attacking game that can be crucial in speed games. It has a faithful band of supporters who revel in the obscure variations and lines named after club players. A good introduction to the opening is a recent book by Alan Dommett called Emil Josef Diemer 1908-1990 – A Life Devoted to Chess. This hardback publication is published by the Book Guild in England. Basically, it once again looks at the games of Diemer with an appreciation of his attacking play and with general comments. There is nothing new for connoisseurs but a lively introduction for those who want to play daring openings.

By chance Jeffrey Reep from the USA has a problem with his favourite opening: "In the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, Euwe Defense, 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 exf3 5 Nxf3 e6 6 Bg5 Be7 7 Bd3 Nc6!? What should white do from here? Your book recommends either a3 (seems like a waste to me) or Qd2. Rev. Sawyer also recommends 0-0 (a line he calls the Zilbermints Gambit). Perhaps you could highlight possible variations as the move Nc6 seems to crop up far more often than any of the alternatives for me.

I recently lost a game that proceeded 8 0-0 Nxd4 9 Kh1 Nxf3 10 Qxf3 h6!? 11 Qh3? (I believe this to be bad and perhaps Rad1 was better) 11...e5 12 Qh4 when black was able to trade down quite a bit. Any thoughts would be of the greatest help before I give up on the whole gambit! (Not likely...) Thanks for the time!"

Well, as I mentioned earlier Blackmar-Diemer Gambit players are devoted to their tricky opening lines. Of course, the introduction of computer programmes has put a lot of gambit lines out of business because nowadays it easy for any correspondence player to choose the correct defence. This is why I only recommend it for rapid games. Let’s take a closer look at the line you mentioned:

Peter Leisebein - Wolfgang Hort  e-mail 2002

1 d4 Nf6 2 f3 d5 3 e4 dxe4 4 Nc3 exf3 5 Nxf3 e6 6 Bg5 Be7 7 Bd3 Nc6

[Diagramm] 8 a3 This pawn move designed to stop ...Nb4 is a little slow but has the merit of preserving the useful bishop on d3. It really depends who you are playing because at least it maintains the tension but if Garry Kasparov is opposite you then just take back your moves until you can try a Queen's Gambit. 8 Qd2 is probably the best of the bunch: A) 8...Nb4 9 0–0–0 (9 Bc4?! is not so impressive. Mark Huba is renowned for taking excellent chess photos but in this game against F. Steggink, Groningen 1999, he fails to create an attack after 9...Nbd5 10 a3 0–0 11 Bd3 c6 12 Nxd5 exd5 13 0–0 Ne4 14 Bxe4 dxe4 15 Bxe7 Qxe7 16 Rfe1 f5 17 Ne5 Be6 and Black has the better chances) 9...Nxd3+ 10 Qxd3 h6 11 Bh4 c6 12 Rhf1 Qc7 13 Ne5 b5 14 Ne4 Nxe4 15 Rxf7 g5 16 Qxe4 Bb7 17 Qg6 Rf8 18 Rh7+ Kd8 19 Bg3 Qc8 20 Qg7 Re8 21 Nf7+ Kd7 22 Nd6 Qd8 23 Nxb7 Qb6 24 Nc5+ 1–0 Niels Jørgen Jensen - W. Jurack, Correspondence 1991. B) 8...h6 9 Bh4 (9 Be3!? is a better bet 9...Nd5 10 Nxd5 Qxd5 11 0–0 intending c2-c4 with some decent compensation for the pawn) 9...Nd5 10 Bf2 Bg5 11 Nxg5 Qxg5 12 Qxg5 hxg5 13 Nxd5 exd5 14 Kd2 Be6 15 Rae1 0–0–0 16 Bb5 g4 and a draw was agreed in G. Kenworthy - A. Walton, Blackpool 2003, but Black is better. 8 Bb5 is a little-played option but is worth investigating. H. Evans - A. O'Toole, Southend 2000, saw it being played but White failed to impose herself after 8...Bd7 9 0–0 a6 10 Bd3 (10 Bc4!?) 10...0–0 11 Qe1 h6 12 Bxf6 Bxf6 13 Qe4 g6 14 Ne5 Nxe5 15 dxe5 Bc6 16 Qe3 Bg7 when Black's defence looks solid and he remains a pawn up. I don't like 8 0–0 which just seems to lose a pawn after 8...Nxd4 with zero compensation. I think White at a certain level can get away with being a pawn down but two is a more serious matter of concern. For instance: 9 Kh1 Nc6 10 Qe1 Bd7 11 Rd1 h6 12 Qh4 Kf8 13 Be4 Kg8 14 Bxf6 Bxf6 15 Qf2 Qe7 16 Nb5 a6 17 Nbd4 Nxd4 18 Nxd4 c5 19 Ne2 Bb5 0–1 V. Drüke - T. Sawyer, Correspondence 1997. 8...0–0 9 Qd2 Re8 10 0–0–0 h6 11 h4!? One has to admire Leisebein's commitment to attack at every opportunity. 11...hxg5 12 hxg5 Nd5 13 Nxd5 exd5 14 Qf4! The simple idea of transferring the queen to the h-file reveals why White was content to sacrifice the bishop in order to open the h-file. 14...Qd6

[Diagramm] 15 Rh8+! This is the reason why the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is so popular because it gives the opportunity to finish like a champion. Instead 15 Qh4 is not so clear upon 15...f5 16 Qh7+ Kf8 when the position is complicated but White has no forced mate. 15...Kxh8 16 Qxf7 The threat of Rh1+ dictates Black's fate. 16...Bxg5+ 17 Nxg5 1–0

Gary Lane

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